Christ the Lord has promised us the Holy Spirit: come, let us adore him, alleluia.
Year: A(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
|Saints Marcellinus and Peter (- 304)|
Pope St Damasus I dedicated his life to establishing and strengthening the Church after the great persecutions, and took much care over the restoration of the Roman catacombs and the proper burial of the martyrs there, including Marcellinus and Peter.
As a boy, Damasus had heard the story of these martyrs from their executioner. Marcellinus was a priest, Peter was not. They were beheaded during the emperor Diocletian’s persecution, and buried on the Via Labicana outside Rome.
After the persecutions, a basilica was built over the site of their tomb.
|Other saints: Saints Pothinus and Blandina (- 177)|
All that is known of these martyrs comes from a celebrated letter from the church of Lyon to the church in Asia and reproduced by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History.
Pothinus was the first bishop of Lyon, and thus the first Bishop in Gaul, and was arrested in 177 during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, together with Blandina and forty-five other Christians. Pothinus is known to have been very old: the letter says 90 years old.
Many of the martyrs died in prison or were beheaded, as befitted Roman citizens, but six of them were sentenced to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena, among them Blandina, a slave.
The beasts did not touch Blandina, so she was beaten, then burned, then tossed on the horns of a bull, and finally, after having witnessed the martyrdom of her companions (calmly except in the case of her friend Ponticus, whose faith and perserverance she had doubted) was strangled by the public executioner.
Pothinus was succeeded as bishop by St Irenaeus, one of the great Fathers of the early Church.
|Today's Gospel: "When you were young you walked where you liked"|
“When you were young
you walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will take you
where you would rather not go” (John 21:18)
Christ’s prophecy in today’s Gospel might seem to be speaking merely of Peter’s martyrdom, but it has an additional message for us today.
In the bad old days people died young and they died, on the whole, quickly. Practically always, they died among the people they had lived with. In today’s kind world such things are receding into the past. Now we are deprived, one by one, of our faculties and all the achievements that made us adult and made us human. We are taken into hospitals or put into homes and imprisoned there by our weakness. If we are unlucky, we are subjected to systematic humiliation and daily petty cruelty from those who ought to be caring for us. If we are lucky, the kindness we receive is still a reminder that we are not the proud, independent beings we once were.
Let us pray for the weak and old and helpless. Let us pray for their carers (ourselves included), that they may lay their frustrations before Jesus and, by his grace, not take them out on those they should be caring for. Let us pray to St Peter that God may allow us to embrace death, like him, before our endurance fails.
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Acts 2:32,36 ©|
God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. For this reason the whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Galatians 3:27-28 ©|
All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ©|
Get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
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Office of Readings for 7th Friday of Easter
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